May-June 2017


Concerts, Workshops And Dance!

By David Bragger

LAOTS PosterThe Los Angeles Old-Time Social is weeks away!! Musicians from all around North America arrive to jam, dance, learn and perform for this three-day event! This year we have musicians from all over California, Tennessee and Pennsylvania performing and teaching world class traditional music. The Social will be held May 18-20th! For more info and pictures go to the Old Time Social website

Thursday Night (May 18th) is the Kick-Off Concert/Party at the Tropico De Nopal Gallery.

The Thursday kick-off tradition typically showcases local old-time musicians which this year includes Bees Knees (Los Angeles), Bearcat Duo (Oakland) and The Americans (Los Angeles)! (This evening is 21+)

Friday Night (May 19th) is the formal concert at the Velaslavasay Panorama Theater

The concert features these incredible and diverse old-time acts: Buck Ewe (Rafe Stefanini and Eric, Suzy & Allegra Thompson), Skillet Licorice (San Francisco), Bob Willoughby (Tennessee), Paul Rangell & Emily Abbink (Santa Cruz) and our first ever cranky performance by Angelina Elise w/ Kelly Marie Martin. (All Ages)

On Saturday (May 20th) at the American Legion Hall

Is a full day of workshops including old-time fiddle, Cajun fiddle, flatfooting, Cajun dancing, sacred harp singing, Cajun guitar, old-time banjo, square dance calling, harmony singing and mandolin! You can attend as many workshops as you want for only $20. The workshops are immediately followed by the greatest Cakewalk in Los Angeles and an epic square dance featuring the concert musicians and dance callers Susan Michaels & Robin Fischer! (All Ages and very family-friendly!) You can pre-register for workshops by contacting

Without further ado, here is this year’s workshop schedule. See you at the Social!

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12:00-2:00pm Sacred Harp Shape-Note Singing

The Sacred Harp Beginners Club began one day in LA in the comforts of someone’s home or on the tip-top of a glorious hill. They met week after week with creative hiatuses now and then only to continue as beginners three years later. A group of trained perfectionists and genuine newbs, they still review the songs section by section, singing through all versus in order to achieve the greatest satisfaction.

The workshop will be led by Brandon Armstrong, David Elsenbroich, Andrea Tzvetkov, and more Beginners Club regulars.

2:00-4:00pm Square Dance Calling—Susan Michaels

Learn how to call squares for your friends and family.  Beginners welcome.  Or just show up and get your dancing shoes on.

SUSAN MICHAELS is a teacher and a caller of traditional American dancing, especially contra dancing and square dancing. She has called and taught dances at local evenings, weekend workshops, week-long elementary school programs, week-long family camps and dance weekends throughout the U.S. and Canada.

4:00-5:00pm Cajun Dancing with Ira Bernstein

Since his first trip to Eunice and Mamou in 1981, he has made numerous return visits to southwest Louisiana to dance in the local Cajun and Creole dance halls and music bars.  He learned by watching the best dancers and then asking them to dance.  He presents “old school” Cajun two steps and waltzes, and has led workshops at numerous festivals and camps across to country.

IRA BERNSTEIN is an accomplished Cajun dance instructor.  Since his first trip to Eunice and Mamou in 1981, he has made numerous return visits to southwest Louisiana to dance in the local Cajun and Creole dance halls and music bars.  He learned by watching the best dancers and then asking them to dance.  He presents “old school” Cajun two steps and waltzes, and has led workshops at numerous festivals and camps across to country.

5:00-6:00pm Flatfooting with IRA BERNSTEIN and Ruth Alpert

IRA will teach an open level Flatfooting workshop. He will teach a few basic steps, including the Walking Step (also called the Buck Step), with an emphasis on style, nuance, and musicality.  He will also field requests from the more experienced dancers.

For nearly four decades IRA BERNSTEIN toured internationally, performing traditional southern Appalachian flatfooting and other forms of percussive step dancing in concerts and at festivals.  The Queen Elizabeth Hall in London, England, Maison de la Danse in Lyon, France, the Alte Oper in Frankfurt, Germany, Lincoln Center in New York City, and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. are a few of the noteworthy venues at which he appeared.  He has been a member of the highly influential and esteemed companies The Fiddle Puppets of Annapolis, MD and the American Tap Dance Orchestra of New York City, and has shared the stage with many of the world’s greatest tap and step dancers, including, Savion Glover, Gregory Hines, Honi Coles, Sandman Sims, and Brenda Bufalino.  Credited to be a founding father of the current percussive step dance scene, Mr. Bernstein no longer performs due to health issues, but he continues to teach and be an inspiration and resource to percussive dancers around the world.

RUTH ALPERT has been flatfooting for 34 years.  She has taught workshops, danced with old-time Appalachian string bands, busked (street performed) in various cities in at least 6 states, and is a two time National Champion in Senior Buck Dancing, 2013 and 2014.  Currently, Ruth is the percussion section of The Honeysuckle Possums, an all-female string band playing original and traditional music.


12:00-1:00pm Italian & New Mexican Music with Paul Rangell & Emily Abbink

This will be a workshop to play music, not to watch. All instruments welcome.  Paul will go through tunes phrase by phrase for melody makers on fiddle or mandolin, while Emily will play the chords on guitar. We provide our own style of chord charts for everyone. We’ll teach a march, a shotis, and mazurka – time permitting – and get everyone on board the train.

PAUL RANGELL and EMILY ABBINK play traditional music from the old country and the new world. They specialize in tunes from Italy, Mexico, New Mexico, Arizona, and the Carribean that feature angular and distinctive rhythms like tangos, mazurkas, shotis, boleros, tarantellas, pasodobles and marches. They are founding members of Bayou Seco (New Mexico) and performed for seven years with El Teatro Campesino (San Juan Bautista, CA) in theatrical productions. At home in Santa Cruz, California, they collaborate with several notorious musicians in maintaining three weekly public gigs where people are eating and drinking. Together they have forged a large repertoire and recorded two CDs Tuesday Nights (2012) and Noche Azul (2014). In 2015, they enjoyed a seven-week music residency in Venice, Italy allowing contact with traditional musicians in the mountains of Northern Italy.

1:00-2:00pm Cajun Guitar with Eric Thompson

Eric will get you started on the two main styles of Cajun rhythm guitar: Rodney Balfa style and dance hall (like how Ann Savoy plays) style. Bring your guitar and a flatpick!

ERIC THOMPSON took up the guitar as a teenager in Palo Alto, California in the early 1960s, at a time when very few folk guitarists were playing more than basic rhythm guitar. Among his earliest bands were the Black Mountain Boys (with Jerry Garcia and David Nelson) and Mother McCree’s Uptown Jug Champions. He quickly became nationally known as an exceptional lead flatpicker, winning the World Championship Cup at Union Grove, North Carolina with the New York Ramblers (which also included David Grisman and Winnie Winston) and flying to Nashville, Tennessee to record “Beatle Country” with the Charles River Valley Boys (reissued on Rounder). During the 1970’s, Eric continued to play old-time music and can be heard with the Spare Change Boys on the Folkways CD, “Classic Oldtime Music”. He also took up the tenor banjo, organized the Graineog Celidh Band around two master musicians from County Clare, Joe Cooley and Kevin Keegan, and spent six months in the west of Ireland, visiting and learning from older traditional musicians there.

Eric’s first solo LP, Bluegrass Guitar, featured an all-star band including David Grisman and Tony Rice, and was released in 1979 on Kicking Mule. In the 1980s Eric toured extensively nationwide and abroad with the Blue Flame Stringband (with Kate Brislin, Alan Senauke, and Suzy Thompson) and the Backwoods Band, recording with both bands. Between tours, he traveled to southwest Louisiana, pursuing his newest musical interest, Cajun music. In 1983 he formed the California Cajun Orchestra and can be heard on their two award-winning Arhoolie CDs. More recently he has recorded with the Todalo Shakers and the Bluegrass Intentions. Eric also appears as a sideman on recordings by Mike Seeger, Alice Gerrard, the Savoy-Doucet Cajun Band, Mac Benford, Jody Stecher, Jane Voss, and Frankie Armstrong, among others. Eric is a knowledgeable and patient teacher, who has been a staff member at Puget Sound Guitar Workshop, Bluff Country Gathering, Augusta Heritage Old-Time and Cajun-Creole Weeks, Port Townsend Festival of American Fiddle Tunes, Ashokan Fiddle & Dance Camp, and Lark In the Morning. His guitar instructional materials are distributed by Stefan Grossman’s Guitar Workshop.

2:00-3:00pm Cajun Fiddle with Suzy Thompson

Suzy will teach a Cajun fiddle piece, including the seconding.  Fiddles tuned regular.  Focus will be on getting the groove and feel of the music.  Beginners welcome; seconding is a great way to get at the heart of Cajun fiddle music and doesn’t have to involve a lot of left hand motion (although some styles of seconding can be very technically demanding).

SUZY THOMPSON is one of the rare musicians today who has mastered the acoustic blues violin, following in the footsteps of Lonnie Chatmon, Clifford Hayes and Eddie Anthony. A powerful blues singer in the styles of Memphis Minnie and Bessie Smith, and a highly respected blues fingerpicking guitarist, Suzy is unique in her ability to combine fiddle, vocals and guitar in the blues and ragtime idioms. In 1976, Suzy’s interest in Cajun music was sparked by seeing the Balfa Brothers perform. She traveled to southwest Louisiana, receiving an NEA Fellowship in 1980 to apprentice with Master Cajun Musician, Dewey Balfa; she also studied with Cajun fiddle legends Dennis McGee, Cheese Read and Wade Fruge. The 1980s saw Suzy touring and recording with the Blue Flame Stringband and the Backwoods Band, appearing on the Prairie Home Companion radio show, and touring throughout the U.S. and in Europe. In 1983, Suzy formed the California Cajun Orchestra, featuring Louisiana-born accordionist Danny Poullard The CCO’s debut album, on Arhoolie, was awarded the prestigious Prix Dehors De Nous by the Louisiana French Music Association; their follow-up CD won a NAIRD Indie for “Best Cajun-Zydeco Album of the Year.” Suzy has performed with many of Louisiana’s finest Cajun musicians, including Joel Savoy and Jesse Lege, Edward Poullard, D.L. Menard, Beausoleil, Michael Doucet, Dewey Balfa, and Marc and Ann Savoy. She appears in Les Blank’s film on Cajun and Zydeco music, J’ai Ete Au Bal. She has been an instructor at many festivals and music camps, including Centrum’s Country Blues Week, Menucha’s Blues in the Gorge, Grand Targhee Music Camp, Augusta Heritage Cajun-Creole and Old Time Weeks, Californa Bluegrass Association Music Camp, Port Townsend Festival of American Fiddle Tunes, Walker Creek Music Camp, California Coast Music Camp, Puget Sound Guitar Workshop, and Lark In the Morning.

3:00-4:00pm Old-Time Fiddle & Bowing of African-American Fiddler Will Adam with David Bragger

This workshop is for all levels! The objective is to get the fiddler playing an incredible tune or two with a focus on rhythm, variations and bow patterns. David will be drawing from a mesmerizing collection of tunes that come from the mysterious African American fiddler Will Adam. He was recorded by Mike Seeger in the 1950s and very little is known about this wonderful player and his hypnotic tunes.

As always, David’s workshops emphasize the key ingredient to old-time fiddle: Bowing!! All workshop attendees will receive audio files of the tunes with phrase by phrase instruction. Please email for registration and questions.

DAVID BRAGGER is in high demand as a fiddle teacher at festivals and has private students around the world.He is known for his ability to break down tunes and bowing with ease and clarity.  David is also the director of the UCLA Old-Time Ensemble and artistic director of the Santa Barbara Old-Time Fiddlers’ Convention.  David Bragger plays banjo, fiddle and mandolin in the old-time stringband Sausage Grinder and in several local dance bands. David teaches old-time fiddle and banjo to students of all ages and levels. He is also the founder of the Old Time Tiki Parlour ( which produces concerts, workshops, CDs and films by the best old-time musicians alive, including Bruce Molsky, Rafe & Clelia Stefanini, Kirk Sutphin, Dan Gellert, Paul Brown, Spencer & Rains, Eric & Suzy Thompson, Mike Compton, Joe Newberry, Scott Prouty, etc.

4:00-5:00pm Old-Time Fiddle with Bob Willoughby

Bob will be teaching melody and bowing variations using simple melodies.

BOB WILLOUGHBY is truly a multi-genre musician, comfortable in a tuxedo or overalls, with a repertoire that includes Old-Time, bluegrass, gospel, blues, early country, jazz, swing and cajun. While he is perhaps happiest playing acoustically for late-night dancers in a dimly lit hall, Bob’s versatility shone through while touring with a gospel quartet, playing and singing harmony in a bluegrass band, and rockin’ jazz standards on a grand piano at a 5-star resort hotel music listening room.

5:00-6:00pm Old-Time Banjo with Rafe Stefanini

In this class Rafe will teach one or two simple clawhammer tunes form the SW Virginia, North Carolina regions, with emphasis on the double thumbing typical of the Round Peak area. All learning will be by ear so a recording device is highly recommended!

RAFE STEFANINI is an old-time banjo player, fiddler, guitarist, singer, teacher, violin maker, and restorer. He was born in Italy and grew up in Bologna. He first visited the United States in the late 1970s and came to live in the U.S. in 1983. He is a permanent resident of the U.S. and lives in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia. In addition to playing music, he is also trained in violin making and restores violins. He has performed with the Wildcats (along with Carol Elizabeth Jones and Stefan Senders. Along with Dirk Powell and Bruce Molsky he has performed with a trio called the L-7s. He has also performed with Molsky and guitarist Beverly Smith in a group called Big Hoedown, a group that disbanded in 2000. Along with Meredith McIntosh, John Hermann, and Bev Smith, he has performed in the Rockinghams. He has also recorded with Bob Herring. He performs with his wife Nikki and daughter Clelia (who plays fiddle, guitar, double bass, and ukulele) as “Nine Pound Hammer.” Stefanini has performed on A Prairie Home Companion and at the Mount Airy Fiddlers Convention. He has performed throughout the United States as well as in Finland, Germany, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei.

David Bragger is a Los Angeles-based instructor and player of old time fiddle and banjo music. He also photographs, films, and collects the lore of traditional artists, from puppeteers in Myanmar to fiddlers of Appalachia The Old Time Tiki Parlour


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